In rematch with Hoosiers, undermanned Gophers lose big

Nate Mason led the Gophers with 18 points.

Jack Warrick

The Gophers played with two of the five original starters they began the season with on Friday night in Bloomington, Indiana.

They lost a close four-point game in their matchup with Indiana earlier in the year, but Friday was a blowout.

The Gophers fell to Indiana (14-12, 7-7 Big Ten) 80-56 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, as the team watches their NCAA Tournament hopes dwindle. 

“Our offense was bad and I think it affected our defense,” Head coach Richard Pitino told reporters. “We’re not able to disrupt. They were hurting us on ball-screen stuff, we were just a little late. That was obvious.”

The game was over before it began, as the Gophers had to turn to their inexperienced bench players to make up for the loss in scoring that comes with three former starters being gone. Indiana carried the lead throughout the game, and a quick 10-point lead was taken after 7:30 had gone by in the game.

The first game against Indiana was played in early January against the Hoosiers in Minneapolis. It was on the day of Reggie Lynch’s suspension. Starting guard Amir Coffey’s shoulder injury was announced before the game. The Gophers were without both Coffey and Lynch on Friday, but Dupree McBrayer was also gone with a leg injury, leaving just two of the Gophers original five out on the court.

The depleted and inexperienced Gophers (14-13, 3-11 Big Ten) were down by 10 points as they headed back onto the court for the second half. They couldn’t hit their second wind and within five minutes, the Gophers were down by 15. Five minutes later, they were down by almost 20 and by the end of the game the Gophers fell 24 points behind.

“I don’t want to use excuses but you can’t give me a basketball team that could lose three starters and the top guy off the bench,” Pitino told reporters. “I don’t know Duke maybe?”

Nate Mason led the Gophers on Friday with 18 points, Isaiah Washington had 14 points and Jordan Murphy had 12.

Indiana’s 57 percent shooting was overpowering to the Gophers, who shot just 37 percent themselves. Indiana also far out-assisted the Gophers with 21 to the Gophers’ four — a stat that displays the better teamwork and ball movement Indiana had on Friday night.

Next up for the Gophers is No. 4 Michigan State (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten) , which will come to Williams Arena on Tuesday.